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Gardening Question of the Day

Should I consider buying a Christmas tree that can be replanted after the holiday? Is replanting usually successful?

Not everyone will want to change holiday traditions to try this, but it's something to consider. Some growers are now selling their trees in soil balls that can be replanted. The idea is to buy the tree close to the holiday and keep it outdoors until about a day before Christmas. In areas where the ground is not frozen, it should be replanted immediately after Christmas. It's not advisable to use too many decorations or any electric lights, as the lights might take the tree out of dormancy and cause it to die when replanted. So that doesn't give you as much leeway as a cut tree does. The soil ball must be kept wet at all times. When planted, the tree must be watered well, and there should be no air pockets in the soil. It also must be watered during thaws, especially during dry winters. Staking it will prevent root damage from strong winds. If frozen ground prevents planting, the tree can be kept in a sheltered location outdoors, and the soil ball can be kept warm with a foot-thick covering of straw or other mulch.

Last 7 Days

    Is there an herb that goes best with anise in the garden?

    Plant anise with coriander, which promotes its germination and growth. Plant in full sun and light, dry soil.

    I got some bulbs late last fall and didn't find time to plant them. They've been in my barn. Can I plant them in the spring?

    Your bulbs have missed out on the opportunity to root underground during the winter, so don't put them directly into the ground. Pot them in pots immediately, water them heavily, and leave them in the barn. When they start to sprout, bring them indoors, let them bloom, then plant them outside when the weather warms up and the bloom is gone. From there, they'll continue growing for years. Go luck.

    What is the best way to rid my lawn of grubs?

    Please check our Garden Advice section for a complete discussion of combating this lawn nuisance. We have a feature called "Safe Cures for Lawn Troubles" there. In short, the key to preventing grubs is to have the healthiest lawn possible, which requires proper watering, mowing, and fertilizing. The key to getting rid of them may be handpicking.

    What is a Heat Zone Map?

    Hardiness Zone Maps for gardening show the cold ranges in the United States to help folks make planting decisions. Heat Zone Maps are relatively new. Dividing the United States into 12 regions, this type of map indicates how many days of the year temperatures go above 86 degrees F. This is the temperature at which most garden plants start to suffer. The zones range from Zone 1, with less than one "heat day" per year, to Zone 12, with more than 210 "heat days" per year. Heat Zone Maps will start appearing on seed packets, in catalogs, and elsewhere this fall.

    Have you heard of planting seeds in eggshells to start transplants?

    Yes, it's an old-time trick. In the days before nice peat pots provided by your local nursery, an eggshell worked nicely. Here's advice from 1880: "Take eggshells cut in half, make two or three small holes in the bottom of each, fill with sifted soil, , sink in a box of sand, sow seeds and cover with glass, of course keeping them in the right light. Water only the sand, for they will absorb enough through the holes. In transplanting, break off the shells, leaving the lump of earth intact without the roots being jarred or disturbed." Try this with some cabbage seeds toward the end of February and you may have good starts for transplanting as soon as you can work the earth!

    Do you know of a pet-safe means to prevent or reduce the fleas in my rather large yard? I tried nematodes on my lawn, but that didn't work. Daily yeast tablets and flea collars don't seem to repel them from my dog either.

    There is a pet-safe, environmentally friendly insecticide specifically designed for spraying on grass; ask your veterinarian about it. With regard to your pet, try adding a teaspoon of vinegar to each quart of the animal's drinking water. It helps keep pets free of fleas and ticks.

    When is the best time to transplant camellias?

    The ideal time to transplant camellias is before they bloom in spring, but a second option is when they start their new season of vegetative growth right after flowering, usually February to May for camellias. Transplanting young plants is easy, but older plants can be difficult. If you're thinking of moving an older plant, you may want to consider heavy pruning instead.

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